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Author Topic:   faith based science?
eclectic1993
Junior Member (Idle past 1643 days)
Posts: 9
Joined: 10-20-2012


Message 1 of 171 (676257)
10-20-2012 11:47 PM


Hi,
I have been a creationist for a long time. I have always loved science and sci-fi. As a creationist I absolutely am influenced by faith regarding origins. There are bits I don't understand. However I know clearly the boundary between my knowledge of science and my faith.

I'm curious in learning from thinking evolutionists who have looked at the strengths and weaknesses of their knowledge and beliefs.

What 'holes in your understanding of origins (bangers and toe) have you had to accept by faith? Just because you use faith to fill in the gaps doesn't mean it is bad science or not true. For now, given our clearest empirical understanding of origins, what do you accept on faith?

Gotta get back to "walking with dinosaurs" on TV. Aren't dinosaurs great? You now that us creationists really loved Jurassic park. Dinosaurs and man living in harmony. =)

Regards,
Chuck


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Message 2 of 171 (676259)
10-21-2012 8:09 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the faith based science? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
Panda
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Posts: 2688
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Message 3 of 171 (676263)
10-21-2012 8:45 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by eclectic1993
10-20-2012 11:47 PM


No faith
Hello and welcome to EvC

eclectic writes:

What 'holes in your understanding of origins (bangers and toe) have you had to accept by faith? Just because you use faith to fill in the gaps doesn't mean it is bad science or not true. For now, given our clearest empirical understanding of origins, what do you accept on faith?


In science, you don't have to accept anything on faith - there is no "science of the gaps".
You should not fill in the gaps with faith - there should be a definite and rational justification for any claim (with as much evidence as possible to support that claim).

If there is a gap which cannot be filled, then we should say "We don't know yet".


"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." J. B. S. Haldane

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jar
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Message 4 of 171 (676266)
10-21-2012 9:30 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by eclectic1993
10-20-2012 11:47 PM


As a Christian theist I can't see any holes in my understanding of origins that I accept on faith.

And yes, accepting something on faith would not just be bad science, it would not be science at all.

And of course, humans and dinosaurs never lived together unless you mean humans and birds.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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ProtoTypical
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(1)
Message 5 of 171 (676268)
10-21-2012 9:55 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by eclectic1993
10-20-2012 11:47 PM


Just to reiterate
Hi Chuck. Welcome to EvC.

Definitions taken from Webster's

Faith = firm belief in something for which there is no proof

Knowledge = the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning

What 'holes in your understanding of origins (bangers and toe) have you had to accept by faith?

For the rational mind, if there is a gap in knowledge then it remains a gap until it can be filled in by facts that can be shown to be true.

Take the idea of the Higgs Boson for example. Prof. Higgs et al took information that they knew to be true and then theorized the existence of the particle. Armed with this theory they went looking for it. You might say that they had 'faith' in it's existence but they did not have knowledge of it's existence until they actually found it. Had they not found it they would have been forced to go back and find out why their theory was wrong. What they would not do is to insist that their theory was correct in spite of the evidence.

The rational mind is willing to accept new information and adjust it's understanding accordingly. The faith based mind seeks to interpret new information in such a way that it does not conflict with previously held beliefs. So I think that your premise is faulty and that the rational mind recognizes a gap in understanding as a gap in understanding.

You now that us creationists really loved Jurassic park. Dinosaurs and man living in harmony. =)

As I recall, there wasn't actually a lot of harmony going on there or are you being sarcastic?


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NoNukes
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Message 6 of 171 (676272)
10-21-2012 11:02 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by ProtoTypical
10-21-2012 9:55 AM


Re: Just to reiterate
Faith = firm belief in something for which there is no proof

I would modify this a bit. Plenty of people accept scientific results when they are utterly unaware of the evidence supporting the results. I don't see how such acceptance is any different from faith. In some cases the question is whether faith is misplaced.

It is also the case that there are other ways to reach a result that is unsupported by the evidence than accepting things on faith. For example, relying on faulty evidence, misinterpreting results, and using bad logic can all lead to a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Yet those things cannot be considered 'faith'.

For the rational mind, if there is a gap in knowledge then it remains a gap until it can be filled in by facts that can be shown to be true.

I like your Higgs example and with the lesson it teaches about how science should be done.

In at least some sense, most things scientific are never proven. We use abductive reasoning to support general relativity, the theory of evolution, and the standard model.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead. William Lloyd Garrison.

Well, you may still have time to register to vote. Even North Carolinians can still register for early voting. State Registration Deadlines


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nwr
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Message 7 of 171 (676278)
10-21-2012 11:56 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by eclectic1993
10-20-2012 11:47 PM


What is faith?

We often hear these accusations of faith-based science. But it is far from clear what the accusers mean by faith.

This will be a somewhat lengthy response, as I go through examples from my own experience. You can decide whether or not they depend on faith. And, when you have decided that, let us know so that we can try to work out what you mean by "faith".

Example 1 - from personal life

My wife takes the commuter train into Chicago on work days. The inbound train usually stops at the north platform. But, occasionally, it is on a different track so one must board from the south platform. There is usually a loud speaker announcement when boarding will be from the south platform.

Issue 1: Is it faith to believe what the loudspeaker announcement says?

In practice, I usually drive my wife to the station. If we see that most of the people are at the south platform, I will drop her off there. Otherwise, I will drop her off at the north platform.

Issue 2: Is it faith to go by what other people are doing?

There are some other alternatives here. We can look at the signal lights on the track. And if the signals on the north track are set for an outbound train (a train going in the wrong direction), then the inbound train will probably be on the south track. But this is not 100% reliable - signals have been known to be switched at the last moment

The most reliable method is to wait at the crossing point until the train is in sight. Then, decide which platform to wait on, after seeing which track the train is on. But there's a problem here, too. By the time that the train is close enough to tell which track it is on, there is very little time to cross before the gates lower and bar crossing to the other side.

Commentary: Philosophers say that knowledge is justified true belief. But what the train example illustrates, is that we often have to manage without certainty. We can get by with weak justification for weakly held beliefs. And I think that is a big difference with religion. For religion insists on certainty, whereas science admits that scientific knowledge is tentative and subject to revision when there is new evidence.

Example 2 - from mathematics

I'm a mathematician. I actually have a paper published in number theory. There's a famous example in number theory, known as Fermat's Last Theorem, which Fermat claimed to have proved but he did not leave us a proof. Almost nobody believes that Fermat actually had a proof. More recently, the theorem has been proved by Andrew Wiles. The proof is long and difficult. I have not actually read the proof, but I do believe the result.

Issue 3: Am I relying of faith, in believing Fermat's last theorem?

My take is this: Some good mathematicians have checked Wiles' proof. I take that as sufficient evidence to support my belief. However, if I wanted to prove something else that depended on FLT, then I would feel obliged to read and understand Wiles' proof first.

That Wiles' proof has been checked by others is sufficient evidence for an ordinary belief in the truth of FLT. But it is not strong enough for the kind of certainty that I would need in order to build on top of that result.

Example 3 - biology

I am not a biologist. I did take one year of biology in my freshman year as an undergraduate, and did learn about evolution there, though I had heard of it previously.

The evidence for evolution can, at most, be indirect evidence for me. I have not done the field work. I have to rely on the reports by paleontologists, biochemists, etc.

I'll start with the theory of evolution. My general take on scientific theories, is that they are neither true nor false. The define a methodology to use in the field, and they define the terminology. We accept theories because they work well. That is to say, scientific theories are pragmatic constructs.

Let's look at some examples of what could be considered theories:

  • Kepler's laws of planetary motion - false, well known to be false, but a very useful approximation;
  • The gas laws (Boyle's law, for example) - false, well known to be false, but a very useful approximation;
  • Newton's laws of motion - true by definition of the terms involved, so they are unfalsifiable. But they are very useful because they allowed us to vastly extend what we could measure and to vastly increase the amount of information that we could thereby obtain.

Note that some people will disagree with my view of those laws, particularly with my view of Newton's laws.

The point here is that we value scientific theories for their usefulness, not for their truth. Both Kepler's laws and the gas laws are idealizations. Every physicist knows that reality does not match the ideal. But the idealization is useful as a starting point.

Back to evolution. I see the theory of evolution as, likewise, being an idealization. Strictly speaking, it is not true. Horizontal gene transfer is observed, but is not strictly according to the theory. One of the annoying things about creationists, is that they somehow think that they can disprove the theory of evolution with a counter example, and thereby throw out all of evolutionary theory. But we don't expect the theory to be literally true. We take it to be an idealization, much as we do with other scientific theories. If creationists want to see evolution tossed out, then they will need to come up with something that is at least as useful.

While strictly speaking, the theory is an idealization, it does tell us a lot about the biosphere. When I am solving a jigsaw puzzle, I do not have a logical proof that I have everything right. Rather, the pieces all fit together so well, that it is inconceivable that my solution to the jigsaw puzzle is not mostly correct. It is the same with evolution. The pieces all fit together so well, in the picture they give us of the biosphere, that it is inconceivable that it is not mostly right.

Issue 4: Does that amount to accepting evolution on faith? Does it involve faith to accept that a jigsaw puzzle is solved?

You specifically asked about origins questions. So let me address two of those:

(a) the origin of life: I do not know how life originated. I suspect that we will never have enough data to be certain about that. I believe that life mostly likely originated by natural means. I'm inclined to the view that "metabolism first" is more likely than "replicator first". But I cannot prove that. My position is tentative.

I have not ruled out that life began in an magical ("poofing into existence") act of divine creation. But I think that unlikely. All of the evidence we have suggests that if there is/was a divine creator, then that creator has always used natural means of carrying out the creation. So the best evidence suggests a natural origin of life, even if a creator was involved.

(b) the origin of species. The theory of evolution gives a good account of processes that are at work, and that could have resulted in the biological diversity that we see. However, for most species we do not have direct evidence. It is conceivable that one or more species were created by magical poofing into existence. It is conceivable, but it is highly implausible. And as more evidence of our presumed hominid ancestors shows up, it becomes more and more implausible that homo sapiens arose by means other than natural processes. And those natural processes are what the theory of evolution idealizes. It is likely that there was some horizontal gene transfer involved. It is likely that something similar to the endosymbiosis (proposed by Lynn Margulis) was involved. So I don't assume evolution occurred strictly in accordance with the idealized theory. However, evolution of some not-so-idealized type seems to be the explanation.

Issue 5: Does it follow that I take evolution on faith?

Summary

What we see with creationists is certainty about their creationist beliefs, in spite of considerable evidence to the contrary. And that's about what I take "faith" to mean.

By contrast, with scientists we see tentativity about their beliefs, even though those beliefs are strongly supported by evidence. I don't see that as at all similar to faith.


Fundamentalism - the anti-American, anti-Christian branch of American Christianity

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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 15946
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(1)
Message 8 of 171 (676285)
10-21-2012 12:44 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by eclectic1993
10-20-2012 11:47 PM


What 'holes in your understanding of origins (bangers and toe) have you had to accept by faith? Just because you use faith to fill in the gaps doesn't mean it is bad science or not true. For now, given our clearest empirical understanding of origins, what do you accept on faith?

Well, Panda is right. Instead of using faith to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, I say: "I don't know". That is scientific.

Using faith to fill in the gaps would not be scientific, because we know that faith isn't a reliable method of gaining knowledge --- it would be like using a measuring instrument that we know to be broken in order to obtain data.


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ringo
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(1)
Message 9 of 171 (676307)
10-21-2012 5:01 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by eclectic1993
10-20-2012 11:47 PM


eclectic1993 writes:

What 'holes in your understanding of origins (bangers and toe) have you had to accept by faith?


There's a difference between accepting something by faith and accepting that the professionals know what they're doing.

I can get on an airplane without knowing anything about aerodynamics. I trust the pilot to know what he's doing and I trust the airline to only hire qualified pilots and I trust the government to only sanction safe airlines.

Similarly, I can trust that biologists and cosmologists know what they're talking about even if I don't understand what they're saying.

I could take flying lessons to learn what the pilots know and I could take the trouble to learn science too.

It strikes me as odd that creationists can scoff at evolution on a computer that was built using the same science. It's like trusting the pilot but thinking the mechanic who serviced the engines is an idiot.


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eclectic1993
Junior Member (Idle past 1643 days)
Posts: 9
Joined: 10-20-2012


Message 10 of 171 (676308)
10-21-2012 5:04 PM


Hi Everyone,
Thanks to the warm welcome and responses.

Kudos to 'nwr' and his detailed thoughts. I had to read that post three times to soak it into my old brain. I appreciate you giving up the better part of a day to write it. =) However, I understand where you stand. Your "Issue 4" response was very honest and you admitted to not knowing about the origins of life. That's cool. Thanks.

@Dogmafood,
Yes I was joking about my 'dinosaurs and man living in harmony' comment. I hope things are not too intense around her to permit some humor. But then again, that's the problem with text only...can't see sarcasm or wit.

@NoNukes
Gotta agree with your comment about Higgs and how science should be done. I helped my sons years ago with science experiments in the garage. We started with a hypothesis, constructed an experiment, took measurements, and analyzed results. I really like this kind of empirical based science.

@Panda,
Your statement 'there is no "science of the gaps"' is interesting. I have found your post and others in this thread helpful in understanding terms and concepts. Thanks.

Allow me to elaborate on gaps.

My evolutionist friend at work has an interesting way of dealing with life spawning from inorganic matter. He explains that it is outside the purview of evolutionary science. He stated that was a matter for a chemist to work out. He is able to embrace evolutionary theory and "ignore origins of life", and is quite happy. He takes this gap in 'faith'. We laugh together that we're both a couple of 'believers'.

I know that this perspective is actually quite common with many adherents to evolution. After all evolution is focused on life changing/developing/mutating/etc. from life, not from non-life.

First and foremost, when a creationist speaks about the problem of evolution, it begins with origins. This is why, technically, creationists and evolutionist cannot really debate, because they are not debating the same thing. I bet you all have seen this time and time again on this site.

Second to 'origins of life' is another gap I've seen taken on faith.
That is the decoding/reprogramming of DNA to produce more complex forms/combinations of DNA.

I must admit, as a programmer I love to make video games and even dabble with Artificial Intelligence/Life coding. I've written code that appears to morph into something more intelligent. I've even written some basic self-replication programs. However, it only behaves in the way in which I programmed it to behave. If any of you have ever tried to write code that rewrites itself with each iteration using basic rules (external influences), then you know how nearly impossible it seems.

My friend from work explains this 'gap' by saying that millions of years have elapsed, and that anything could happen in that amount of time. I'll be honest, I'm convinced that given trillions of years that life would not 'find a way'.

So, IMHO, evolutionists generally accept that life originated 'somehow' and that cells can replicate into more complex bits 'somehow'.

From a man of faith, it seems that evolutionists at the macro perspective do in fact operate on faith and can be downright dogmatic about it. That is why I say "faith based science".

If you have read this much, thanks for indulging me.

This leads me to another question. Have you actually considered what we (evolutionists and creationists) share in common in terms of science and beliefs?

I want to share my fish cam with you. http://myfish.camstreams.com/ Don't worry, it's not a setup for a 'growing legs' joke. =) We started an organic garden three years ago and now I'm breeding and raising Tilapia for a food source in my garage. I'm trying to understand the science well enough to help a fellow in an African village supplement their protein intake.

Regards,
Chuck


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eclectic1993
Junior Member (Idle past 1643 days)
Posts: 9
Joined: 10-20-2012


Message 11 of 171 (676309)
10-21-2012 5:10 PM


Ringo,
Just saw your post.

It's not my intent to scoff at evolutionary theory. Evolutionists have contributed a lot to our knowledge of the known world.

I could go to a creation site and chime in with others in bad mouthing evolutionists. But frankly that's a bit immature in my opinion. My goal for coming to a site where I suspect I'm in the minority is to discover our common ground and to understand and respect our differences.

Regards,
Chuck


    
Larni
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Posts: 3943
From: UK
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 12 of 171 (676311)
10-21-2012 5:16 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by eclectic1993
10-21-2012 5:04 PM


What your friend seems to be saying is that he or she does not have the expertise to make a meaningful comment about abiogenesis and that that question is best left up to a chemist.

That seems perfectly reasonable since evolution is biology and abiogenesis is chemistry. Why ask a person about something that is not in his or her field?

I see no bone of contention.

Welcome to EvC.


The above ontological example models the zero premise to BB theory. It does so by applying the relative uniformity assumption that the alleged zero event eventually ontologically progressed from the compressed alleged sub-microscopic chaos to bloom/expand into all of the present observable order, more than it models the Biblical record evidence for the existence of Jehovah, the maximal Biblical god designer.
-Attributed to Buzsaw Message 53

The explain to them any scientific investigation that explains the existence of things qualifies as science and as an explanation
-Attributed to Dawn Bertot Message 286

Does a query (thats a question Stile) that uses this physical reality, to look for an answer to its existence and properties become theoretical, considering its deductive conclusions are based against objective verifiable realities.
-Attributed to Dawn Bertot Message 134


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subbie
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Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


(1)
Message 13 of 171 (676313)
10-21-2012 5:21 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by eclectic1993
10-21-2012 5:04 PM


My evolutionist friend at work has an interesting way of dealing with life spawning from inorganic matter. He explains that it is outside the purview of evolutionary science. He stated that was a matter for a chemist to work out. He is able to embrace evolutionary theory and "ignore origins of life", and is quite happy

***

So, IMHO, evolutionists generally accept that life originated 'somehow' and that cells can replicate into more complex bits 'somehow'.

First of all, welcome!

Second, I think you will create problems if you continue to use the word "evolutionists." It makes it seem as if you are trying to make a distinction between scientists and people who understand the scientific evidence that supports the ToE.

Third, I think, if you inquire further, you will find that scientists absolutely do not accept on faith that life originated "somehow." In fact, if you look at the thread Miller and Urey Experiment: What has changed?, there is some discussion of recent investigation into how life began. Scientists do not accept it on faith but continue to investigate to try to find answers. If in fact their investigation reveals evidence that shows their initial ideas are wrong, they will change their ideas to conform with the evidence.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

Howling about evidence is a conversation stopper, and it never stops to think if the claim could possibly be true -- foreveryoung


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Dr Adequate
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(1)
Message 14 of 171 (676315)
10-21-2012 5:47 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by eclectic1993
10-21-2012 5:04 PM


My evolutionist friend at work has an interesting way of dealing with life spawning from inorganic matter. He explains that it is outside the purview of evolutionary science. He stated that was a matter for a chemist to work out. He is able to embrace evolutionary theory and "ignore origins of life", and is quite happy. He takes this gap in 'faith'.

I don't see that. He knows that he doesn't know how life arose, he doesn't try to fill the gap with a faith-based solution.

This is why, technically, creationists and evolutionist cannot really debate, because they are not debating the same thing.

Creationists can use the word "evolution" to mean evolution. They just choose not to.

My friend from work explains this 'gap' by saying that millions of years have elapsed, and that anything could happen in that amount of time. I'll be honest, I'm convinced that given trillions of years that life would not 'find a way'.

Well, your friend is right and you are wrong.

We know what sorts of mutations can occur. We know about insertion, deletion, single nucleotide substitution, chromosome fusion, etc.

Knowing what mutations occur, it is perfectly obvious that there are many --- indeed, infinitely many --- sequences of mutations that would get you from the genome of a fish to the genome of a frog, or from the genome of a monkey to the genome of a man. The limiting factors are the mutation rate and time. That's not faith, that's math.

This leads me to another question. Have you actually considered what we (evolutionists and creationists) share in common in terms of science and beliefs?

Qua evolutionists and creationists, very little.


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ringo
Member
Posts: 13322
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 15 of 171 (676317)
10-21-2012 5:49 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by eclectic1993
10-21-2012 5:04 PM


eclectic1993 writes:

I've even written some basic self-replication programs. However, it only behaves in the way in which I programmed it to behave. If any of you have ever tried to write code that rewrites itself with each iteration using basic rules (external influences), then you know how nearly impossible it seems.


Congratulations. You just scuttled Intelligent Design.
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